Indian Child Welfare Act separates foster daughter from Santa Clarita family

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A Santa Clarita family is devastated after learning that their 6-year-old foster daughter, who is part Native American, has been ordered to live with a tribal family in Utah. (KABC)

In photos, they are a happy family - but Sunday could be the worst day for the lives of Rusty and Summer Page and their 6-year-old foster daughter, Lexi.

Lexi spent time in two other foster homes before the Pages took her to live with them and their three young children four years ago. Now, they want to adopt her.

"She's a very happy girl and she's a part of our family and we love her dearly," Summer said.

Rusty added that Lexi moved in with them when she was only 2 years old and knows the couple as her mother and father.

But the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services plans to come to the Page family home Sunday to take Lexi away and send her to live with a family in Utah. The decision was made because of her heritage - she is 1.5 percent Choctaw.

Because of that, her case fell under the Indian Child Welfare Act, a federal law passed in the 1970s that aims to protect the best interests of Native American children and promote stability of tribal families.

The Pages said they supported an earlier plan that would have returned Lexi to her birth father, but he distanced himself from his daughter in 2012, according to court documents.

They then began a legal battle to keep her after learning she would be sent to live with extended relatives in Utah. They lost their most recent court appeal Friday.

"It just tore us apart because to think that our child could leave for such a stupid thing," Rusty said, his voice breaking as he held back tears.

In a statement, a court appointed attorney for Lexi said, "Her family in Utah have been waiting to receive her for over 3 years, during that time they have traveled to California monthly and she has visited their home as well.

"The injustice here is not that she is leaving California but rather that her foster parents pursued litigation which prevented her from joining her family sooner."

In another statement, the Choctaw Nation said it wants what is best for Lexi.

"The Choctaw Nation desires the best for this Choctaw child. The tribe's values of faith, family and culture are what makes our tribal identity so important to us. Therefore we will continue to work to maintain these values and work toward the long-term best interest of this child," it said.

Summer said she's wants Lexi to know that she loves her, that Lexi is very special and that she deserves to be in a home where wants to live.
Related Topics:
newsfoster kidsnative americanlegalcourt casefamilydepartment of children and family servicesSanta ClaritaLos Angeles CountyUtah
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